Bud Emerson | Klish Way
Finally, we have a housing plan. Actually we have two plans, both passed unanimously. One is the final piece of the plan for the last eight years (fifth element). The other is the proposed plan for the next eight years (sixth element).
After months of political pandering and finger pointing, out come two plans that not only escaped a last minute promise of severe sanctions from the state, but are rational, multi-faceted, balanced intentions to distribute all levels of housing throughout the community.
Despite all of the political gamesmanship, these plans represent the best ideas gleaned from vigorous citizen input combined with the professional expertise of our Planning staff. (See the city website for the complete texts of both plans).
But they are plans, not production. Del Mar is at the bottom of the list when the production of all cities is measured. Over the last few decades our actual production is zero.
Perhaps we can now put politics aside and unite the community in actually producing our fair share of a state-wide challenge to solve a severe housing shortage.
Before we get started, let’s try to set a new frame for this work. Maybe we can stop looking at this as a burden afflicted on us by state mandates. Let’s try to see this as an opportunity to contribute our fair share and enhance the quality of our community life at the same time.
Let’s focus on the demographic enrichment we could achieve by opening more doors to a variety of people who could qualify for affordable rents—a range of incomes of about $40,000-$90,000 depending on family size. We can welcome teachers, firefighters, international graduate fellows, visiting scientists, single parent families, artists, city staffers, sheriff deputies, fixed income seniors, retired engineers, musicians—a variety of interesting people of different races, backgrounds, ages, skill levels.
Del Mar has more open space per capita than almost any coastal town in Southern California. We already have areas of modest density that weave quite comfortably in the fabric of our community (Del Mar Woods, south end of Stratford, Grand Avenue, north end of Coast Highway....). We can be creative in strategically adding a few more with design features that fit well in neighborhoods. The thoughtful designs of the proposed Watermark property set a good standard.
The biggest plot of development opportunity is the fairgrounds. Our housing element plans prioritize development on the fairgrounds. At a time when the fair board is talking about re-purposing, we need to make a case with them for win-win housing on a portion of that state property.
Come on, Del Mar. Let’s make it happen!